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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award

Area(s) of Focus

Sandra M. Swain, MD

Medical Director, Washington Cancer Institute
MedStar Washington Hospital Center
Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University
Washington, DC

Current Research

Minority cancer patients account for less than 2 percent of clinical trial study populations. There are multiple reasons for their underrepresentation, including lack of education on clinical trials, cultural beliefs and attitudes, and clinical trial study designs that exclude many minority patients because of other illness or existing conditions, which tend to be more common in minority and underserved populations. Dr. Swain is working to address some of the barriers to clinical trial participation through the INSPIRE study, which has been successful in increasing the number of Black patients who sign consent/participate in breast cancer therapeutic trials at MedStar hospitals. Her study will draw from patient interviews and a simple intervention called Question Prompt List (QPL) to ask questions concerning the clinical study in an effort to keep patients engaged in the decision making and ultimately increase enrollment to therapeutic clinical trials. Empowering Black patients to engage in conversation about their study with their physician has the potential to increase enrollment numbers even more. The development and testing of the QPL, which will have applications in a diverse patient population, builds upon Dr. Swain’s past BCRF research and will enhance the field of cancer clinical research by improving participation of minority patients in clinical trials.


Sandra M. Swain, MD, FACP is the Medical Director of the Washington Cancer Institute, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, in Washington, DC. She is a Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine. She was previously the Deputy Branch Chief of the Medicine Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health and was a tenured Principal Investigator and Chief of the Breast Cancer Section and of the Cancer Therapeutics Branch. She obtained an undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina in 1975, and a MD from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 1980. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Vanderbilt University in 1983 followed by a fellowship in Medical Oncology at the National Cancer Institute in 1986.

Dr. Swain’s research interests include clinical trials and translational research in metastatic and inflammatory breast cancer, adjuvant therapy for breast cancer, cardiotoxicity, and health care disparities. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the Avon Foundation. She has published over 230 articles and is recognized as a leading international figure in breast cancer. She received the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Community Global Award of Distinction in 2012.  Dr. Swain was president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in 2012-13, served as a member of the ASCO Board and is a member of the Conquer Cancer Foundation Board.